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Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services through its Safe Kids programs teaches families how to property install and use car seats for children.

Keeping children safe in autos is important. Helping parents in this regard, the organization Safe Kids Cherokee County offers a special car seat check program to educate parents on proper car seat installation.

Lisa Grisham, who works with both Safe Kids Cherokee County and as Senior Fire Safety Educator with Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services, said Safe Kids Cherokee County has been around for about 20 years, and the car seat program was one of the first programs the group offered after establishing itself.

The car seat program offered by Safe Kids Cherokee County is held three times a week at no cost to participants, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. On Monday, parents can bring their child’s car seat to Woodstock Fire Station No. 14 between 1-4 p.m. The program is held on Tuesday and Thursday at the Cherokee County Conference Center on Bluffs Parkway in Canton from 9 a.m. until noon on Tuesday and 2-5 p.m. on Thursday.

Parents are requested to schedule an appointment for their car seats to be checked and must have their child with them so the seat can be properly fit. Grisham explained the program is able to accommodate four or five appointments each day, as an appointment, which covers the inspection and education on one car seat, lasts approximately 45 minutes.

During the appointment, Grisham said one of the group’s certified technicians will check for any recalls that may have been issued on the car seat, ask questions about the car seat’s history (such as if it may have been in a wreck) and examine how the seat is installed in the vehicle. Following this, the technician will demonstrate how to properly place the seat into the car before allowing the parents to practice doing so themselves so they will be able to do so on their own later.

“We want to make sure the hands-on part is there,” Grisham said, adding that each appointment allows participants to receive one-on-one, personalized instruction from the technician.

She estimated that between 85-90% of those who have a car seat installed in their vehicle are not using it correctly, with some issues being smaller and others being more serious. This makes the program that much more valuable, as it can help keep children safer once the seat is installed properly.

“This is such a needed thing,” Grisham said. “We want to educate and correct any issues.”

Along with the weekly sessions, Safe Kids Cherokee County holds special events several times a year, according to Grisham. During these events, the group has several of its technicians available, who are able to help between 40 and 60 clients over the course of the event, Grisham said.

Although much of the program is centered on helping parents better understand how to properly install a car seat in their vehicles, Grisham said the organization is also able to help parents who may need some assistance in obtaining a quality car seat for their child. If the parents do qualify for a car seat through the program, Grisham said the cost incurred by the parents is just $20.

Since the program first began helping the residents of Cherokee County with properly installing their car seats, Grisham said virtually all of the reactions and feedback the group has received from participants has been positive. Among the many things Grisham said she and others with the group have heard people say were, “I never knew that about car seats,” “I’ve been doing it all wrong this whole time” and “I never would have been able to do this myself.”

For anyone interested in signing up for an appointment to have a car seat inspected, Grisham said appointments can be scheduled either on the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services website at www.cherokeecountyfire.org or the Safe Kids Cherokee County website at www.safekidscherokeecounty.org.

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